False hellebore (Veratrum album) is a highly toxic perennial herb which is native to Northern, Southern and Central California, primarily in the Transverse Range, the Peninsular Range and Modoc Plateau regions. It grows upright to a height of 6 feet and develops striking white to greenish, star-like flowers which bloom mid spring in dense clusters. It's seed pods turn black as they ripen.
False hellebore tends to grow in disturbed or recently burned places, at elevations from 0-11000 feet. It emerges as soon as the snow melts in the spring. Usually found in damp, swampy areas, on moist meadows, and woodlands.
Although all parts of false hellebore are poisonous, the roots are 5 to 10 times as poisonous as leaves or stems. False hellebore poisoning may occur in 2 to 3 hours after an animal eats the plant.
- Congenital deformities in offspring
- irregular gait
- excessive salivation with frothing
- rapid heartbeat
- shallow breathing
False hellebore may be controlled by applying amine salts of 2,4-D at the rate of 1 kg per acre of acid equivalent after the last leaves have expanded and before bud stage. A second treatment may be required the following year. Follow all precautions for handling herbicides.